Who hasn’t had their fair share of run ins with the NCAA lately? Recently two players from the Akron Zips were suspended due to “clerical errors“, which neither were at fault for. But that didn’t stop the governing body of collegiate sports from hammering them with a three game suspension.
The NCAA’s purpose is to regulate collegiate athletics, not ruin the game by misinterpretations of its own rules. A recent example of this is the Penn St. Nittany Lions (Jerry Sandusky) scandal. While gross and against the law, the matter was actually out of the jurisdiction of NCAA by-laws. The program didn’t receive any improper benefits nor did they break any NCAA rules. Yet, because of public pressure, they felt the need to overreact and hammer a bunch of student-athletes, who had no awareness of the situation, with a stiff penalty.
I can give you countless more examples of the NCAA wielding its power unjustifiably. But not only do they choose the wrong cases, sometimes they choose the wrong time. The timing of UCLA Bruin Shabazz Muhammad suspension was questionable at best. Just moments before the Bruins were to start their regular season, the NCAA found it necessary that it was only then they were to let the program know Muhammad was ineligible.
People bashing the NCAA isn’t new nor is it a trend. It has been going on for some time now yet nothing seems to change. One of the biggest issues at hand is the NCAA runs its operations like a business, which it has every right to, but the student-athletes are expected to only receive scholarships with no monetary compensation. This seems to be where the student-athletes are rebelling the most but it might be an issue left settled until after smaller ones are fixed.
What has been overlooked by everyone following the NCAA’s lackluster performance is its lack of actual power. Most people don’t realize that at the highest form of college football the NCAA has never sanctioned a National Champion, they leave that up to outside parties. So the governing body of that sport doesn’t even recognize the champion. Yet everyone continues to follow them blindly even though they have no say in who is actually going to be crowned victor. So why is schools recognizing its suspensions The NCAA can’t prevent them from being crowned a “fictional” National Champion.
The NCAA was originally formed for deaths and serious injuries in early college football. (Then) President Theodore Roosevelt wanted collegiate sports to be reformed and the most important thing he wanted accomplished was a safer game. At the time universities were so put-off by football that some of them actually discontinued their programs. I don’t know if it was Roosevelt’s love of football or need to interject himself into the situation but he didn’t help start the beginnings of the organization to suspend players for someone else’s mishandling of paperwork.
I can sit here and continue to bash the NCAA and it will likely fall on deaf ears. National sports writers have long chased after the NCAA holding itself as accountable as it holds student-athletes. But the NCAA can be smart, if only it benefits them. The NCAA doesn’t comment on “secondary” violations, leaving many people to wonder why a player is being suspended in the first place. If it wasn’t for reporters digging, a player suspended for “Improper Benefits could be taken many different ways. It’s not until someone does researching that we find out the player was suspended for their AAU coach donating to a school 20 years ago (or years before they were born).
The lack of accountability and translucency are just the icing on the cake for the NCAA. If the rules they made up weren’t silly enough (ones they misinterpret themselves), the NCAA won’t even comment on what exactly they’re trying to do or on what they have done. Instead we are left with a line from their by-laws, in which we are left more confused then we were at the start.
I honestly don’t know what it’s going to take. Whether it be several universities stepping up to the plate and asking for reform, programs just succeeding from the NCAA, or (please no) government intervention. But something needs to be done and it has to be fixed soon.
The NCAA was started to “protect” student-athletes (President Teddy) not punish them.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. The NCAA practices that very definition daily and we continue to let them govern. That leaves us with one big question. Who is more insane, the NCAA or us?
Joe covers the Big East for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone